The provincial board has registered its opposition to a pending bill at the House of Representatives seeking to open municipal waters to commercial fishing, warning that this will be harmful particularly to Palawan’s small fisherfolks.
Board member Juan Antonio Alvarez, who initiated a formal resolution against House Bill No. 7853, warned that its impact on Palawan will be strongly felt particularly during the time of the pandemic when fisheries resources are important to small fishers.
“If we look at Palawan, we are surrounded by waters and our fishermen are relying in municipal waters. If we allow this bill to be passed ay dehado ang mga mangingisda natin at alam naman natin pandemic din ngayon, kailangan pa nilang bumawi. Kung papayagan natin ang mga commercial vessels ay baka tuluyan silang maitsapwera. Ang commercial fishing vessels ay alam natin na malaki ang magiging epekto,” Alvarez said.
Board member Leoncio Ola also expressed disappointment that even without the proposal, commercial fishing vessels already conduct fishing activity within the municipal waters of Palawan towns.
“There is no need for the passage of the house bill dahil matagal na itong ginagawa ng mga big time commercial fishing vessels. Naisipan pa nilang magpasa nito, durog na ang mga areas natin dito. I strongly support the resolution because matagal na tayong inabuso ng mga commercial fishing vessel particularly ‘yong mga galing sa ibang lugar,” Ola said.
Board member Cesario Benedito added that the bill will even give more favor to commercial fishing vessels.
“Ito ay nagbibigay lang ng pabor doon sa malalaking commercial vessels to enter within the municipal waters. Hindi ito maganda dahil sila na ang magkakaroon ng pabor ng pangingisda,” Benedito said.
Board member Cherry Pie Acosta also urged municipalities to pass the same resolution opposing the House Bill because they will be the ones that will be directly affected.
“Baka pwedeng pati ang mga Local Government Units natin ay magpasa ng kaparehong resolution opposing the expansion of the commercial fishing vessels sa municipal waters dahil sila ang talagang apektado dito,” Acosta said.
A copy of the resolution will be submitted to the three Palawan representatives.
Oceana Philippines, an Non-Government Organization exclusively working to protect and restore the ocean has also launched an online petition to junk the bill on April 9, 2021.